Wear of the Uniform

For work the other day, I had an opportunity to do some time studies (just watching people work and timing each step over and over) in a surgery center with some of my colleagues.  Part of this duty required us to change into scrubs. One of my colleagues (a well dressing female) commented “it would be so nice to wear scrubs every day and not have to think about what to wear!”.

Naturally, I took this opportunity to pontificate on how I don’t spend time deciding what to wear and the philosophy of decision points.  

I’ll save the deep dive into decision points for a well researched article, but the basic concept is humans have a finite capacity for making decisions in a day (why it’s hard to decide what to eat for dinner after a long day’s work).  Habits help us eliminate the need to make decisions (by eating the same thing for breakfast every day).

Having been in the military and in law enforcement, I have spent much of my working life wearing a uniform and not having to make those decisions.  

I managed to apply these concepts when I moved into a corporate work setting that required the dreaded Business Casual.  I stumbled into this incidentally through difficulty in finding clothes that fit my “triathletes” build, broad on top, narrow on bottom (an extra-medium).  I found it in the slim fit line at Banana Republic if you are in a similar boat (suggest building up the collection slowly from the clearance rack, as they are expensive).  Also, only get non-iron, ain’t nobody got time for ironing.

So I now have a set of seven or eight shirts of varying generic plaids and 5 pants that make up my work “uniform”.  I can basically grab any top and bottom, put them on, and head out to work. (Actually, my wife tells me some colors look better with either black or grey pants, so I pair them up after doing laundry).  I also have one pair of Khakis that I intend to phase out (despite my wife’s protest of an even blander wardrobe) just to eliminate the need for a pair of brown shoes.

I like to think I’m a popular guy at work, but I’m fairly certain NO ONE is paying close attention to how often I wear the light blue with narrow stripes shirt compared to the slightly darker blue with slightly wider stripes shirt.  Try and think of how many shirts one of your male colleagues might own. Living in Minnesota, I also have a single cardigan that can match any and every outfit. People are pretty forgiving in Minnesota about wearing anything extra to stay alive, so no one cares if you wear the same cardigan every day.

I also don’t participate in Casual Fridays.  No need to make an extra outfit decision because I’ve already found a business casual ensemble that is perfectly comfortable.  Sometimes I establish myself as “casual” by not shaving.

Females are little trickier.  According to societal rules, women’s clothing must be vastly different everyday.  The same concept still applies, my wife has probably 20-30 outfits she wears to work normally, she just spends time thinking about which one to wear each day, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter once you establish that.  I’ve got some work ahead of me to get her closet set up with “work uniforms” but I’ll update this with progress/learnings when I do.

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